While the Florida Gators basketball team has been stealing a lot of the headlines lately with a trip to the Elite Eight, the football team has been going through its second week of spring practice.
Of course, a lot of the focus remains on the offensive side of the ball, as everybody is wondering what the unit will look like under offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. But there's also some interesting battles on the defensive side.
So, let’s get into the main takeaways from the second week of spring ball.
No matter what’s going on with the rest of the players, it’s no secret this spring belongs to quarterback Jeff Driskel. He’s the guy who needs to learn the offense and improve his play more than anyone for this offense to take flight.
The good news is that Driskel has looked sharp in his second week of practice, and head coach Will Muschamp gave him his props, according to Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel:
Those guys [quarterbacks Driskel, Skyler Mornhinweg and Will Grier] will continue to split reps and Jeff has certainly distanced himself at this point. But those guys have done some nice things at times. Jeff’s been through change before, so I think the more times you go through that stuff you kind of can handle it and move forward, the maturity takes over.
Driskel has also shown no signs of last year’s injury and is running well, according to the report. Sure, Gator fans have every reason to be cautious with this situation, but it’s always nice to hear positive news about the quarterback after last season’s debacle.
Here’s some of Roper’s thoughts on the offense:
The Good and Bad from the Secondary
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Good? Okay.
The good news is that Florida probably has another situation where a cornerback can come straight out of high school and start. Jalen Tabor has done a fabulous job in practice and could find himself starting on the opposite side of Vernon Hargreaves III, while Duke Dawson is competing with Brian Poole for the nickel position.
Muschamp seems extremely happy with the progress they’ve made so far, according to Robbie Andreu of Gator Sports:
(Jalen) and Duke Dawson both have been a quick study as far as the corner position is concerned. Both of them are going to be really good players. The willingness is there and the coachability is there with both guys. They're willing to be in the film room extra. They're willing to come up here after hours and meet with our coaches and go over things and go over schemes and watch film and learn from it.
And the one thing that I would say that they both have a very similar ability (to) Vernon is when you tell them once, they get it. They don't make that mistake again. They're both very talented.
While corner and nickel don’t seem to be an issue, Florida does have to find two new starting safeties. Besides senior Jabari Gorman, Muschamp is not pleased with what he’s seen from the safeties so far. "He [Gorman] has done a nice job, the others I can’t say that, but he has done a nice job," Muschamp told Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports (subscription required).
Marcus Maye, who lost his starting job last season, has also done well in practice, but Muschamp has been extremely hard on him, telling Goldkamp, "I’ve been pleased with Marcus [Maye] in some things but he’s gotta clean up some technique and fundamental things there."
Here's Maye commenting on spring ball:
Cool, But What About the Receivers?
Despite what Muschamp says about the defense right now, it’s going to be in good hands once the season begins. And no matter how well the quarterback position is shaping up, it doesn’t mean much if Florida can’t find some playmakers at wide receiver.
Well, with a handful of guys jockeying for position, Muschamp feels he has enough guys who have emerged from the pack early, according to Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports (subscription required):
We've got six guys right there that have repped pretty well for us at the position that you can roll in and out. Our base personnel grouping will be some form of three wides, whether it's two backs and three wides or one back and a tight end. Hunter (Joyer) can do some different things from that B-position, a tight end/fullback type of guy.
According to the report, the main guys standing out right now are Quinton Dunbar, Ahmad Fulwood, Chris Thompson, Latroy Pittman, Valdez Showers and Demarcus Robinson. Speaking of Robinson, he's slowly getting out of the doghouse after last season's suspensions and received some praise from linebacker Mike Taylor:
#Gators LB Michael Taylor calls WR Demarcus Robinson is "a freak."— Cody Jones (@CJonesScout) March 27, 2014
As long as the receiver position can continue to blossom, Florida's offense will be fine this season.
We leave you with this spring practice video provided by GatorBait.net.